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Table of Content for philippines:

More pages: May 2018 June 2018




2018/05/25 4.5 Days in Manila
π 2018-05-25 00:00 in Philippines, Trips

Since we were going to the philippines for diving, we started with a few days in Manila, our port of entry to the country.

Our hotel was adjacent to a casino and was in a really pretty building. The breakfast and dinner they had were both fantastic, however they made us go through a metal checker and bag search every single time we got back to the hotel, which was a giant pain in the ass (they claim it was for the security of the casino, but that's a bad excuse IMO).




After arriving, we had a visit of the Google buildings, and went to see the nearby Mind Museum and Ayala Museum:

  • Google Buildings

  • Mind Museum

  • Ayala Museum

  • From the google buildings, we were able to get a few skyline pictures:




    cute
    cute

    The next day we went to see:

  • National Museum of Fine Arts

  • Upside Down Museum

  • Manila Antropology Museum

  • Manila Ocean Park

  • then, let's go to random pictures taken in Manila. The US Army sold all their transport jeeps for $1 each when they left the country as a temporary solution for the transport infrastructure that had been destroyed. Sadly, that solution is still in place today, although the vehicles look cool :)





    cabs can have TV inside to break the boredom of horrible traffic
    cabs can have TV inside to break the boredom of horrible traffic

    We saw a bunch of museums, most have their own page, but here are a few left over pictures:



    from the japanese occupation
    from the japanese occupation

    Arturo and I walked through Luneta Park, between our hotel and the state museums:


    How Rizal, the Filipino (manufactured) Hero, was executed
    How Rizal, the Filipino (manufactured) Hero, was executed


    small Chinese garden
    small Chinese garden




    On Monday, we were supposed to go to Corregidor Island, but sadly the boat broke down and our tour was cancelled. We ended up substituting this for Hiking Taal Volcano (on its own page).


    On Tuesday, we started with the Manila Presidential Museum and Library


    On the 3rd and 4th days, we went to Intramuros, the old town contained within the city walls. We started with St Agustin:











    Next, we walked to Manila Cathedral and onto Fort Santiago:





    Part of the tour was with the walk this way tour, which was given by a local, and quite fun. He gave his colored version of history, which definitely was interesting.

    There was a shrine to Rizal, a local marthyr who was shot for campaigning against the Spanish occupation and power of the catholic church. Others claim that he was manufactured as a local hero/marthyr by the Americans during their occupation (in the process they also introduced some dollars that looked surprisingly familiar, a national holiday on July 4th, and some other US "stuff").



    We then walked around the city walls back towards the Natural History Museum:





    The natural history museum was last inside the city: Manila Natural History Museum


  • After the Natural History Museum, we took our luggage, went back to the airport, and visited the Philippines Air Force Aerospace Museum: Philippines Air Force Aerospace Museum

  • That was it for Manila, after that we were off to Puerto Princesa, a quick 1.5H flight away.

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    2018/05/25 Manila Ayala Museum
    π 2018-05-25 01:01 in Philippines, Sciencemuseums
    Good collection of gold on the top floor, and very nice diaporama on the bottom floor, showing the history of the philippines. We were a bit short on time, but got to see most of it in the time we had:





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    2018/05/25 Manila Mind Museum
    π 2018-05-25 01:01 in Philippines, Sciencemuseums
    It's not a huge science museum, but it was fun to visit nonetheless given that we were nearby:



    earthquake simulator
    earthquake simulator


    It was right next to the Google Buildings, and worth 2 hours.

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    2018/05/25 Visiting 4 of the many Google Manila Offices
    π 2018-05-25 01:01 in Google, Philippines
    Google actually has 7 offices in Manila, after landing there, Jennifer, Arturo and I went to see 4 of them. The contrast was pretty interesting between the GOGO (Google Owned, Google Operated) buildings and the GOVO ones (Vendor Operated). The latter ones were mostly used for call centers.
    We went to see NETP (2 buildings), WCC, and UBT1 which had 10 different floors. The facilities folks were super nice and helpful, they answered my questions before arriving and recommended which buildings to visit.

    The vendor buildings were interesting in that they had nap rooms apparently due to staff being there 24x7 to do support, and they also had lots of lockers maybe due to vendors not allowed to bring recording devices inside the building (which includes phones), they were probably also helpful for people who bring scooter helmets which may not fit at their small desk.
    We went to see NETP (2 buildings), WCC, and UBT1 which had 10 different floors. The density was also quite high, but when we came to visit not too many people were working, it was probably a quiet time.

    Some pictures:


    NETP has a great roof terrace with views
    NETP has a great roof terrace with views





    nice padded elevator in case you go insane :)
    nice padded elevator in case you go insane :)




    nap rooms, called snug rooms
    nap rooms, called snug rooms

    lockers for each person working there
    lockers for each person working there






    2018/05/26 Manila Ocean Park
    π 2018-05-26 01:01 in Aquariums, Philippines
    Ocean Park was 5mn from our hotel, so we went to check it out. It was fun to spend a few hours there in given we had extra time:


    they had little birdies and they were hungry :)
    they had little birdies and they were hungry :)












    weirdest flat turtle I had ever seen
    weirdest flat turtle I had ever seen


    foot spa
    foot spa


    To ened td the evening, they had a light show:







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    2018/05/26 Manila Antropology Museum
    π 2018-05-26 01:01 in Philippines, Sciencemuseums
    Another Museum in Manila, worth the visit too.











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    2018/05/26 Manila National Museum of Fine Arts
    π 2018-05-26 01:01 in Philippines, Sciencemuseums
    The Manila National Museum of Fine Arts has a very nice collection on multiple floors which can easily take 3H+ if you do a proper visit:


    the likeness is unmistakable :)
    the likeness is unmistakable :)












    2018/05/26 Manila Upside Down Museum
    π 2018-05-26 01:01 in Museums, Philippines
    Not museum, but a nice idea for a place to take fun photos in, so we did :)










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    2018/05/28 Hiking Taal Volcano
    π 2018-05-28 01:01 in Hiking, Philippines
    Due to our Corregidor Island tour getting cancelled that day, we had to look for another tour for that day at the last minute, and we settled for Taal Volcano. It's a cool place, crater lake within crater lake:


    We went with Bryan Malvataan, +63 917 203 2792, https://www.facebook.com/ilovetaalvolcano/ and he took good care of us, as well as found a driver to get us from/to Manila to his location at a much much better price than we would have gotten from a tour operator.

    It's a 2H-ish drive from Manila, then a boat ride to the first island. From there, you take horses or hike up (not a very difficult hike, maybe 30mn if you're in good shape, 60mn if not), and then you ge the view of a crater lake while being on an island that is itself in a crater lake. Not bad :)

    Huge crater lake
    Huge crater lake



    2H+ drive
    2H+ drive

    you then get the boat
    you then get the boat



    we took the horses for fun, but Jennifer didn't get the pink one :)
    we took the horses for fun, but Jennifer didn't get the pink one :)


    they gave us bigger hats
    they gave us bigger hats


    very light volcanic activity
    very light volcanic activity

    on the way back, we got a juicy coconut
    on the way back, we got a juicy coconut

    After lunch, our driver took us to Picnic Grove. It had a so so nature trail with a couple ziplines and a very small animal interaction place that wasn't the best we've seen, but it was super cheap, so that was hard to argue :)







    baby croc
    baby croc







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    2018/05/29 Philippines Air Force Aerospace Museum
    π 2018-05-29 01:01 in Flying, Philippines
    Ok, Aerospace is pushing it a bit, it has one replica of a space capsule, but otherwise it was mostly a small collection of planes related to the PAF. It's funny because many planes looked like they were USAF, and US got erased and replaced with Philippines :)

    The Museum is a fair one at best, but then again it costs a whole 20 cents to get in. It's a 10mn walk from terminal 3 without luggage, and a bit farther than you'd want to walk if you do have luggage.
    The indoor collection is a few planes and pictures, while the outdoor collection has a few planes and helis. It takes about 1H to get through both:

















    2018/05/29 Manila Natural History Museum
    π 2018-05-29 01:01 in Philippines, Sciencemuseums
    This was our last museum in Manila on our way to the airport. While the building looked quite big at first, a lot of the exhibit floors were not open yet, so we actually got done in 30mn or so when we had 1h. Still what we saw was quite good, although it lasted about as long as the painful line to get in the building, sigh...

    line for the security check, then line for signing in, and then line to check in your bag
    line for the security check, then line for signing in, and then line to check in your bag








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    2018/05/29 Manila Presidential Museum and Library
    π 2018-05-29 01:01 in Museums, Philippines
    The Filipino president does not actually live in the palace, so it is open to tours. To the local population, it is an honor to be invited to visit (it is by invitation only).
    I went online and we applied before flying in, and were accepted without problems. After a 20mn wait to account for people arriving on "Filipino time", we were given a briefing, and the tour started around 09:30, 30mn after our appointment time.

    Our guide was quite good and gave us good explanations of each room, as well as on how the republic, worked.



    one year, the independent candidate got 0 votes, he apparently forgot to vote for himself :)
    one year, the independent candidate got 0 votes, he apparently forgot to vote for himself :)









    2018/05/30 Puerto Princesa
    π 2018-05-30 01:01 in Philippines, Trips

    The highlight is the underground river tour, which is known as one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world. It's a 2H+ van ride to Sabang, where we then wait in line to take a boat to another nearer location where you finally take the paddle boat to the cave.

















    We then stayed around Sabang, and saw some water monitors:










    tree snake
    tree snake

    They had a long zipline over the water, which sounded cool, but the idiots set it up wrong, and sent us all backwards, making the arrival dicey. Sadly Jennifer arrived backwards and hit her neck on the tires supposed to slow her down :(




    we all ended up backwards
    we all ended up backwards




    that's where Jennifer got hurt, being sent backwards
    that's where Jennifer got hurt, being sent backwards

    After taking Jennifer to the ER to get her checked out and get her pain and anti inflamatory drugs. Thankfully the drugs did wonders and she mostly recovered by the next morning. That evening we did make phone calls to our doctor to get his suggestions and making sure we took the best steps for her. Due to the time difference, we had to wait until 23:00 though, so while she rested in the room, I went to the firefly watching tour that Arturo had already booked. Taking pictures outside of the sunset was almost impossible though, small dots of light from a moving boat is kind of mission impossible:





    wonderful pictures of fireflies...
    wonderful pictures of fireflies...

    The next morning, Jennifer was doing a lot better, so we went on a city tour. Puerto Princesa is full of tricycles that can actually take up to 5 people (although not in comfort). Some are quite nicely decorated:

    they had packed vans acting as busses
    they had packed vans acting as busses

    and those tricycles were everywhere
    and those tricycles were everywhere


    We went to a local cathedral:





    We then went to a couple of WWII sites, where general McArthur came back and liberated the country from the Japanese. Sadly the Japanese killed untold people on their way out, including faking an air raid, having the POW go in a trench, and then setting the trench on fire, shooting people who jumped out :(




    this photo is a bit funny because it had to be staged twice (i.e. it's entirely fake)
    this photo is a bit funny because it had to be staged twice (i.e. it's entirely fake)





    And that was it for Puerto Princesa, we then went back to our hotel to board our liveaboard.

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    2018/06/12 Cebul and Bohol
    π 2018-06-12 01:01 in Philippines, Trips

    For our last day in Philippines after diving on the Siren, we went to a day tour of Bohol.

    This started with a 2H ferry at 07:00 (getting up on the boat at 05:00 and leaving at 05:30 to get to the ferry way too early because traffic sucks and can't be relied on):


    After arriving in Bohol we wnt to a local church with nice decors:







    and then went to a butterfly sanctuary:





    A coconut a day makes a happy Jennifer :)


    We then did a lunch river cruise:



    they did a nice local dance for us
    they did a nice local dance for us


    Next were the hanging bridges:


    This is where I learned that I've been opening coconuts all wrong:


    And finally we got to see the super cute bohol tarsiers, which are actually quite small (size of your hand), and nocturnal, so very sleepy when we saw them:




    Next was chocolate hill, with a view of what to used to be coral reef mounds when all this land was below water:





    Last, and definitely least, we made the mistake of burning extra time with chocolate hill ATV, which gave Jennifer and me a broken ass two person ATV with a failing motor that was mistfiring and couldn't make power, and a known flat tire that they didn't fix and went flat again within minutes of me using it. They then made BS excuses to not re-imburse us, and it's only due to lack of time that I didn't stay there to burn all their new customers and ruin their lives until they paid me back.
    Still, a few pictures:






    And that was it for Bohol, it was then time to drive back to the port to catch our 2H ferry back to Cebu and Arturo to go to the airport (we went to the local google building instead).

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    2018/06/13 Philippines Trip Wrapup
    π 2018-06-13 00:00 in Philippines, Trips

    While we spent about 3 weeks in the Philippines, most of it was spent on a dive boat, so I can't say I gained a great insight on the country, but we still learned some things:

  • weather was hot and humid, unsurprisingly. At the same time, the water was quite warm too, at times at the exact temperature than the air (no kidding, I have 31C for both on some dives).
  • the filipinos were all very nice to us. I even got the impression that we got treated better for being foreigners who bring in tourist money, but even generally I'd say the people were just all very chill and nice.
  • the country was occupied multiple times throughout its history, including a pretty ruthless Japanese occupation and exit where many civilians got killed when the Japanese left.
  • it tried to rebuild the best it could, but you can tell the toll those wars had on the country. It got a fair amount of US help
  • sadly there aren't many historical monuments left due to the amount of destruction during the wars.
  • after learning spanish, and Japanese for a short time, the population learned english under US (reasonably friendly) occupation, which is now a plus since most of the population speaks English well or very well. Not a bad thing as they otherwise had 100+ dialects which made it hard to communicate internally
  • a byproduct of the low cost of living and english speaking skills, many companies have call centers in the Philippines. The accent is much less obvious than the Indian one.
  • a remnant of that help are all those long transport jeeps that were left behind by the US and are now used as makeshift busses. Sadly this also stopped the country from developing a better public transportation system. Pretty much every time I saw one of them, they were packed to the brim and not meant to transport so many people (mostly in Manila).
  • traffic was all around terrible, although in some places it was abysmal instead
  • in Puerto Princessa, they mostly used trike bikes which while being motorbikes with a wheeled basket attached, could actually transport up to 5 people (not comfortably though). They were dirt cheap, 20 cents per kilometer, although the price for tourists was several times that but still too cheap to worry about.
  • regular cabs in Manilla will fairly often ask you where you are going and decline the ride if they think the traffic is going to suck, or give you a set price off the meter, likely because the meter does pay them enough for sitting in non moving traffic.
  • with all this traffic, congestion, and likely poor to no emission regulations, air pollution seemed bad, even if not China bad.
  • traffic is also so bad that people don't bother with seat belts, some cabs didn't have them in the rear. A few rare times I saw a driver put a seat belt on while entering an area (maybe of enforcement)
  • and you can watch TV while driving, because well, traffic doesn't move anyway so you might as well catch up on your TV shows
  • Airports/Security:

  • Security-wise, they had muslim extremist bombings too, like Indonesia, so virtually all buildings have security guards and makeshift searches, quite annoying.
  • That said, I found that in many places, as a tourist of not the wrong color (I assume), the searches were limited and they tried not to be airport-like,
  • but the airports do suck, they forbid any kind of lighter on your person, check in, or carry-on, not true of most of the rest of the world. Ok, a lighter could be dangerous even if you can light fires many other ways
  • more annoyingly, extension cords, you know, what you plug into a far away plug so that you can work with your laptop in the airport, and maybe plug 3 devices into one plug, Well, they are not allowed in carry on luggage. Hello? What?

  • And that was it for the Philippines, good time was had.
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